Your Guide To Rumble Strips: How Do They Work?
If you have already begun researching rumble strip suppliers, you are likely to have already contemplated installing rumble strips at your property. However, you may not have fully assessed whether they would be the correct choice for traffic control and optimum safety. Here we will explore the pros and cons of rumble strips, so you can have all the details you need to make an informed decision.
Rumble Strips Basics
Simply put, rumble strips are rows of raised markers that can be placed in the roadway to create noise and vibration when the tyres of a vehicle make contact. The vibration and noise are intended to alert drivers that there is some form of change in the roadway they need to be aware of. Rumble strips are used on highways worldwide, with major traffic agencies such as the United States Department of Transport crediting them for reducing serious injuries and fatalities on highways and roadways. For this reason, the strips are considered an efficient and safe way to adjust traffic flow to protect drivers and pedestrians in any specific area.
Rumble Strips vs. Speed Bumps
If you are planning the car park layout of your business premises, you may have wondered whether you should use rumble strips or install speed bumps. To determine which traffic calming method best suits your site, you need to understand the differences between each option.
Speed bumps are considered to be the most versatile form of traffic calming. They are typically used when vehicles travel at lower speeds of less than ten kilometres per hour. The steep profile on both sides of the pump creates a barrier up to 25 centimetres high. This forces drivers to reduce their speed dramatically or suffer the discomfort of being sharply bounced.
Many people assume that speed bumps and speed humps are the same things. However, speed humps are actually a flatter form of traffic calming measure. Since they don’t have the same steep sides, it is possible for vehicles to drive over speed humps comfortably, even if they only reduce their speed to 30 kilometres per hour. This reduced effectiveness in confined areas such as carparks makes speed humps impractical. A speed hump may be appropriate for a pedestrian crossing in an urban area, but having vehicles driving around your car park at 30 kilometres an hour could still be very dangerous.
Rumble strips tend to make drivers a little more alert that the roadway is changing. While a driver may slow down to go over a speed bump on autopilot, the vibration and sound of rumble strips immediately alert the driver that there could be a danger to themselves or pedestrians. This can be vital if you have heavy vehicles, such as forklift trucks operating in areas where employees or customers may be driving their cars.
Pros and Cons
Rumble strips are perfect in some situations, but in some cases, there may be a need for alternatives. We’ll review some of the key advantages and disadvantages of rumble strips.
Pro: Driver Awareness
Inattentive drivers are maybe prone to running off a highway and losing control, resulting in a crash or collision. Fatigue is a major cause of collisions; truck drivers, delivery drivers and workers are on the road for a long time and can lose attention on-road and grow weary. Having a vibration travel through the car makes a loud sound and is felt by the driver, targeting two senses able to jolt them awake.
Pro: Reduction of accidents
Accidents, head-on collisions and fatal crashes can be reduced by rumble strips. Numerous Australian highways and roads have continuous shoulder rumble strips installed, alerting drivers if they veer too close to the shoulder or centre line.
Rumble strip installation is an economical method to reduce the number of road crashes and incidents compared to more expensive crash walls and guard rails.
Pro: Alert drivers to changing conditions
The main purpose of rumble strips is to combat driver inattention on roads, and that goes for alerting them to changing conditions. For example, coming to the end of the highway may be jarring and unexpected for a driver if there isn’t much forewarning. It can be dangerous to reduce speed suddenly without being prepared for it. Transverse rumble strips are a method to alert a driver of any changes on the road, such as the end of a highway, as they can’t be missed running across the road.
Con: Exterior noise
The main feature of a rumble strip is the noise, which is meant to alert the driver, but this can also be seen as a negative aspect for those outside the vehicle. If a rumble strip is installed near a suburban area, the roadside noise will be increased by a large number. Installing rumble strips in populated areas should be considered thoroughly, weighing why it would benefit the area.
Con: Potentially dangerous for cyclists
A bicycle’s weight is much less than that of a car, and rumble strips may be potentially dangerous to cyclists. If a bicycle tire catches on a rumble strip, it may cause the rider to lose balance and tumble off, exposing them to further dangerous conditions.
How do they reduce speed?
The speed of a travelling vehicle depends entirely on the driver, a rumble strip is designed to alert the driver of any changes, and hopefully, they slow down. Driving at a high speed along transverse rumble strips can get uncomfortable for the driver, which may also, in turn, cause them to slow to improve the driving conditions. So, while the rumble strip doesn’t play an active role in slowing a vehicle’s momentum, it can eliminate driver inattention and make them aware of their surroundings, but in the end, it’s up to the driver to slow down.
Types of Rumble Strips
There are multiple types of rumble strips, and their uses vary depending on the installed location. Some of the main types are:
Shoulder Rumble Strips: The most commonly seen rumble strips are shoulder rumble strips. They run on along the edge of the road beside or on the shoulder line to alert drivers that are drifting too close to the edge of the road to prevent off-road crashes
Centerline Rumble Strips: Much like the shoulder rumble strip, the centerline rumble strips run along the centre of the road to help prevent head-on collisions with opposing traffic.
Transverse Rumble Strips: Transverse rumble strips are usually installed to signify a driver of changing conditions ahead, such as a speed reduction. They run along the road surface where the cars typically drive and are almost unavoidable. They send a vibration through the car and can be very uncomfortable if driven at high speeds.
Can rumble strips damage your car?
Technically, yes, a rumble strip can damage your car’s suspension and tires. This isn’t to say they will, though, if driven sensibly. Your car’s suspension and tires are prone to wear from any on the road, but usually, cars aren’t driven on rumble strips for so long that they would cause any noticeable damage. If a driver continuously drove along them at a high speed, then yes, their car may suffer damage from them.
Get in touch for all your road safety needs
As we’ve established, rumble strips alert the driver to a changing road or any hazards that may be ahead through tactile vibration. Rumble strips have several uses for keeping people safe. If you are considering installing rumble strips in Perth, business owners should speak to us. The Image Extra team is available to discuss our range of traffic calming measures to help determine if rumble strips are the solution best suited to your specific needs, from rumble strips, safety bollards, and bike racks.